Turkey Musings

Turkey Musings

It’s been a couple weeks now since many of us carved up a Thanksgiving turkey. Was it cooked right, juicy and tasty? Or was it a little lacking?

About 7 years ago, my wife Dara and I started getting a locally raised heritage turkey for Thanksgiving dinner every year. After a number of years of eating vegetarian, and an unfamiliarity with cooking any kind of meat, we found ourselves bewildered as to where the gizzard and such were until we realized we were looking in the neck end of the bird. We also unintentionally cooked it upside down. It took Grandma to tell us the breast was on the bottom. Turns out, that is a great way to cook the bird because the juices settle down into the breast making it very moist.

My point is that just about anyone can cook a delightful turkey. It certainly helps to start with a locally raised heritage breed, such as Naragansett, American Bronze, or a Bourbon Red. Then find a recipe to brine the turkey for 24-48 hours before cooking. This year we had a 16 pound Bourbon Red which fit nicely into our large stock pot.

We created the brine by gently heating 2 gallons of water, a cup of sea salt, a cup of honey, a couple bunches of thyme, a tablespoon of garlic powder, and juice from a couple lemons. Once the salt and honey was dissolved, we chilled the brine in the refrigerator. After the brine was cold, we submerged the turkey and left it in the fridge for a day or two.

For complete directions for cooking the turkey, ask your farmer or supplier, or do a quick online search for recipes and other ideas. To find a locally raised heritage bird for next year, check out our recent blog post on heritage turkeys or find a local producer through the Farm Fresh Atlas (www.farmfreshatlas.org).
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